In the 1830s, Irish and German immigrants dug the New Basin Canal as a link between New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The lake end of the canal featured the New Canal Lighthouse, originally an octagonal, wooden tower resting on pilings driven into the lake bottom. Built by Francis D. Gott in 1838 for $4,500, the tower's lower timbers rotted within four years, causing it to lean.
Originally, the lighthouse stood approximately 1,000 feet offshore. Landfill projects in the early 1900s slowly brought the shore closer to the lighthouse, creating what is now Lakefront Drive. After the original lighthouse was torn down, a second square-shaped, one-story iron piling was completed in 1855.
During the American Civil War, the Confederate forces kept the lighthouse active until New Orleans fell to Union forces in April 1862.
The lighthouse remained active from the end of the Civil War in 1865 until August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina damaged the lighthouse beyond repair. In 2007, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation dismantled the remains and salvaged as many historic materials as possible.
The lighthouse re-opened in 2013 as the New Canal Lighthouse Museum and Education Center. The lighthouse contains exhibits on the history, ecology, and preservation of the lake and lighthouse, as well as views of the lake from the outdoor deck. At night, the lighthouse's beacon is still in operation to guide boats passing through the lake.